The politics of 21st-century America has overflowed with constitutional controversies. In this online seminar, fellows will return to the single largest repository of American political ideas – The Federalist Papers – and consider them anew through the lens of current events. 

Each session, fellows will read a section of The Federalist that discusses a given set of institutions or themes and news accounts of a contemporary issue involving these institutions or themes. In each case, fellows will discuss such questions as: What assumptions (about American political culture, the nature and purposes of American government, human nature, etc.) do the papers/primary sources in question reflect? Do those assumptions still hold in today’s America? If so, what does The Federalist tell us about the contemporary issue we are discussing? If not, why not, and what difference(s) does that change make for our understanding of American political institutions?

Greg Weiner on James Madison's View of Constitutional Interpretation

Faculty

Greg Weiner

Greg Weiner is associate professor of Political Science, founding director of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center for Scholarship and Statesmanship, and provost at Assumption College. He is the author of American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session

Other Courses You Might Be Interested In

Ideas & Public Policy

Examine the influence of ideas in some of our key policy debates.

Religion & Politics

Consider the proper role of religion in public life.

Free Speech in a Fractured Republic

Situate the classic debate over free speech in both historical and contemporary context.

Political Heretics

Track the ideological odysseys of five public intellectuals who broke ranks with their fellow partisans.

Vasily Grossman’s Life & Fate

Read the novel known as the Soviet War & Peace, and reflect on the nature of totalitarianism.

The Federalist

Evaluate the Constitutional Convention’s work through a close reading of The Federalist and the writings of the Anti-Federalists.